Not only is this recent article a thoughtful and interesting look at the current situation in Afghanistan, it also starts with a pleasing little joke:
The situation in Afghanistan is beginning to remind me of an old Russian joke about the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The optimist says, “Things are so bad, they couldn’t possibly be worse.” And the pessimist says, “No, they could be worse.”
From there, the author goes on to argue that Afghanistan should be primarily understood as a civil war between Pashtuns (ie; the Taliban) and the Northern Alliance (the group largely comprised of Tajiks that the West allied itself with in the early days of the post-9/11 invasion). Of course, I think the author is correct — if it is a civil war, and if all we’re doing is siding with one faction to tip the balance of power, then we can expect things to unravel a little further yet.